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Spotlight: Student-Run Service Coordinators
With 12 student-run services on campus (soon to be 13!), there is a service available for just about any student need. Behind every service-run service are the student coordinators that ensure everything is in order and running smoothly.
To get a better look into the life of a service coordinator, we spoke to the coordinators of UW MATES, the International and Canadian Student Network (ICSN), and the The Women’s Centre.
“I got involved as a coordinator after seeing how much work our volunteers do,” said Sanjay Bhaskar, UW MATES coordinator. “The chance to support those in a support role was a huge pull for me. I have some external experience with some other jobs related to this field and I knew I could be of help to some of our volunteers. To be able to help them do a role like this successfully and not experience any burnout or fatigue was huge.”
“I’m very passionate about helping people,” said Hawa Latuke, ICSN coordinator. “When I volunteered with ICSN in the fall term, I really enjoyed just talking to people and getting to know their experiences. Being able to help others was the main motivation to becoming a coordinator.”
“The first time I volunteered, I realized [The Women’s Centre] was really white-centric and not as inclusive as it could be, so I definitely wanted a part in [changing that],” said Akshaya Raja, Women’s Centre coordinator. “I really wanted to continue having more than just a volunteer role, so I applied as coordinator and it’s been great!”
Being a student can be difficult enough, let alone coordinating a service in addition to any other commitments. These service coordinators shared their best time management tips on how they manage to balance it all.
“At the beginning of every term, I very clearly plan out my schedule,” said Bhaskar. “I’ll get my school schedule and plan out my MATES schedule around that. I try to have a fairly clear time table, but also leave some empty space should things run late or if I have an extra assignment due.”
“I always try to prioritize what I need to do every day. With my other coordinator, we always share the tasks to make sure things get done but neither one of us gets overwhelmed,” said Latuke. “For example, if she has a midterm I may take over more of the tasks but if I’m busy I know she will support me when I need it.”
“It’s important to have a really great planner to make sure you have time to study, but also handle all inquiries and issues,” said Midori Matthew, Women’s Centre coordinator. “Make sure you’re prioritizing the right things at the right time.”
Even though holding a coordinator position is a huge commitment, it is highly rewarding and keeps these coordinators coming back term after term. To figure out what makes all that hard work and commitment worth it, we asked our coordinators to share their favourite thing about the job.
“My favourite thing about being a coordinator is probably just being able to see all the volunteers and how many students on campus are committed to running a service like this,” said Bhaskar. “To see how many of them [volunteers] are willing to dedicate the time, the energy, and emotional capacity that’s needed for a role like this and then be able to support them when they need it.”
“My favourite thing is going to the events. I really enjoy going to the Babble Cafe's and the Cultural Connections where I get to meet new people and talk to them,” said Latuke.
“My favourite thing is that I get to meet with and be with so many cool people every day,” said Matthew. “I’ve truly met some of my closest friends here and I’m so grateful for the little family we’ve created.”
“When things were steering toward a white feminist direction, you as a coordinator have the power to change the events you do or the people you reach out to,” said Raja. “You have more power to push change in the right direction.”
For any students considering stepping up and into a larger leadership role themselves, our coordinators left us with some words of advice.
“Don’t be afraid of the role. There is a lot that goes into coordinating a service, but you are well supported. You have your executive team and a co-coordinator so there will always be people there to help you,” said Bhaskar. “If this is something you’re interested in doing, always be willing to take that chance because it’s very much a learn on the job kind of role so you’re not going to really know you can do it until you’re doing it.”
“Be very passionate about the service because that’s the drive that will keep you going and get the tasks done,” said Latuke. “Just always remember who benefits from what you’re doing and how you’re making a difference in other people’s lives.”
“Go in with an open mind. You need to be willing to see the nuance in some of your opinions and understand that even though people won’t share your opinions on everything you still need to hear them out. Be open to appropriate discourse,” said Matthew.
Feds student-run services would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the service coordinators and their teams.
Keep an eye on LEADS for upcoming coordinator, executive, and volunteer job postings!